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« Is there a non-"structural" explanation of a macro-cycle? | Main | Josh Barro Still Doesn't Get It »


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Let me suggest you have the burden of proof wrong, Pete .. and the most basic task of science is to make that so plain & so widely known that the math economists can no long pretend otherwise without scientific & professional embarrassment.

The burden on the "mainsteamers" is to do the impossible -- show us how they can possibly turn tautological math constructs into a causal explanatory enterprise.

Note well -- the mainsteamers had nothing but spectacular and constant failure in atttempting to show this -- a signal fact that t he whole of the scientific community and the whole of educated public the should be made well aware of it.

Flip the burden where it actually lies -- or lose.

Pete is muddling and switching between two very different levels of inquiry.

1) Getting the global explanatory strategy of economics right -- getting the causal mechanism and story right, getting the function of the different parts in sound order, and getting rid of the massive conceptual pathology which still log-jams progress toward a non-pathological scientific endeavor.

2) Providing publish or perish 'normal science' work for career focused academics who would like to contribute something to our knowledge in some little corner of the grand beast which is academic economics.

Let's look at Darwinian biology.

The profession of academic biology excels at #2 listed above -- the grand explanatory framework of the science is well-enough achieved and the particular niches are well enough grounded within that framework and various other scientific frameworks that no one can go very wrong doing their publish or perish work advancing their careers.

But what about #1 ? Well, if you look close there are conceptual problems aplenty with #1, but fundamentally the big picture story is in order, only the details are a mess.

But who works on #1 ? Almost nobody, because the academic machine is designed to work on and advance #2 'normal science' puzzle solving, even when #2 puzzle solving in one particular niche or another is conceptually troubled in significant and fundamental ways. (Take a look at decade's worth of the journal Philosophy and Biology for a taste.)

The people who work on #1 within biology are typically are the older great men, Eldridge, Wilson, Dawkins, Mayr, Gould, guys like that, who are battling with other guys from rival 'normal science' niches within the Darwinian biology tent.

So the state of #1 is often in bad shape, because there is no non-risky was for a young bright scientists to work on that global project without fundamentally jeopardizing his chance at a career at all.

What the "mainline" tradition in economics has done right is #1 -- it's got the fundamental global explanatory strategy or picture right, the overall framework for causally explaining the global problem raising pattern of order that inspires our wonder and asks to be explained.

But there is little or no 'normal science' career opportunity for a scientists out to have a career in economics working on #1 or working to get the scientific community in economics to recognize and acknowledge its patently failed, conceptual ridiculous, and unworkable explanatory/causal grotesquery.

Darwin's explanatory achievement dwarfs that of any particular biological scientist working today on any particular normal science puzzle falling under Darwin's wider explanatory frame -- getting #1 right is far, far more of an explanatory achievement than is any small gain in the world of niche #2 normal science puzzle solving.

Biology is fortunate that it has fundamentally solved its #1 problem -- achieving a sound and powerful and conceptually coherent global explanatory framework.

Academic 'mainstream' economics HAS NOT DONE THIS.

Any little gain in any niche normal science #2 advance is overwhelmingly dwarfed by the massive gain in explanatory power and soundness which is possible if the profession of academics economics got its global explanatory/causal frame in order.

This massive explanatory gain is what the "mainline" / Austrian causal explanatory framework provides. This is a "public goods" gain -- there is no private goods path of self-interested scientific publish or perish career advancement path to achieving these gains.

The way to achieve these gains is to make the general public and the scientific community in particular well familiar with the signal failure of the 'mainstream' to provide anything but a massive pathology of scientific FAIL where a successful global explanatory causal frame is concerned.

Couldn't agree more, Pete. The profession has changed so much in recent years. Unawareness is a great example that, BTW, David H. Wolpert discussed at the Lake Louise workshop. We have an opportunity to return to the mainstream. As you say, however, we can't do that by repeating "the" "Austrian" catechism. If I am not willing to change my mind, why should my interlocutor be willing to change her mind? Open-mindedness is a two-way street. IMHO the Austrian tradition has better epistemics. It is our responsibility to make that claim evident to mainstream economists. The Austrian interpretation of the Great Recession is very much on the radar screen of mainstream economists. Now there's an opportunity to grasp with both hands! It's a good moment for "Austrian" ideas, and we should not waste it.

"Catallaxy, not Catechism" ought to be on a t-shirt. Undergraduates could wear them to Introductory Macro classes.

Well, as an anonymous twat without PhD, I couldn't agree more with the basic gist of this post. To be quite frank, the biggest danger to 'Austrian' economics is the ever-growing 'Austrian economics' online cult.

There is a dangerous tendency within the Austrian school, (I don't think you need me to tell you where it originates), to present Austrian economics as a set of conclusions to be eternally defended rather than a set of ideas to be extended or revised as a part of an open-ended research project.


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